Dec 152020
 


William Merritt Chase Back Of A Nude 1888

 

Biden Lashes Out At Trump In Post-Electoral College Speech (ZH)
Republican Electors In Five Disputed States Cast Votes For Trump (JTN)
Offstage Noises (Jim Kunstler)
Barr Steps Down As AG, Decries ‘Frenzied And Baseless’ Russia Allegations (JTN)
The Case For Pardoning Edward Snowden By President Trump (Greenwald)
Left and Right Unite in Calls for Snowden Pardon (MPN)
Trump’s Last Chance to Snub the Deep State (SCF)
Democrats Make Wreck of Covid-19 Relief Negotiations (Taibbi)
Stimulus Bill Bails Out Defense Contractors, Denies Families Payments (DP)
Fauci: Masks, Social Distancing Likely Needed Until ‘Early Next Winter’ (JTN)
The Covid-19 Data is a ‘Travesty’ (OffG)
Venezuela’s Guaido-Led Opposition Holds Alternative Vote, Burns Ballots (RT)
Sunday Times Claims Navalny Was Poisoned Twice (Robinson)

 

 

Hats off to Jimmy Dore.

 

 

Me, I fear for the future of the country.

Biden Lashes Out At Trump In Post-Electoral College Speech (ZH)

Joe Biden lashed out at President Trump Monday night, saying in a 14-minute speech following his win in the electoral college that Trump’s ongoing challenges to the 2020 election are “an unprecedented assault on our democracy,” and that claims of widespread fraud are “baseless” – despite the fact that the Supreme Court elected not to review the merits of various cases. “Every single avenue was made available for President Trump to contest the results. He took full advantage of each and every one of those avenues.


“President Trump was denied no course of action he wanted to take,” Biden added – also slamming the 17 GOP Attorneys General and 126 GOP Congressmembers who challenged the results of the election as well. Biden implied Trump has both abused – and won’t let go of power, saying “In America, politicians don’t take power — the people grant it to them,” adding “The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing — not even a pandemic or an abuse of power — can extinguish that flame.”

Read more …

“It’s our duty to the people of Michigan and to the U.S. Constitution to send another slate of electors if the election is in controversy or dispute, and clearly it is..”

Republican Electors In Five Disputed States Cast Votes For Trump (JTN)

Republican electors in four states said Monday that they would cast their procedural votes for President Trump from the Nov. 3 elections, and Michigan sent two separate slates of electors to Capitol Hill, 16 electors for Trump and 16 electors for Democrat Joe Biden. “It’s our duty to the people of Michigan and to the U.S. Constitution to send another slate of electors if the election is in controversy or dispute, and clearly it is,” said Meshawn Maddock, Republican at-large national elector. Michigan state Rep. Daire Rendon said: “What it comes down to is this: have the secretary of state, director of elections, and election officials proved to you that the election had accuracy and integrity? They have not. And because of this, the election is in dispute.”

Under the Constitution, state legislatures have plenary power over their respective elections. Because there is an ongoing dispute over the Michigan 2020 general election, members of the Michigan legislature have called on Washington, D.C., to not count Michigan electors until further action from the Michigan legislature, according to a press release about the Michigan effort. Congress will count electoral votes Jan. 6. The Trump campaign embraced the alternate slate of electors’ actions, saying it preserved legal options before the Jan. 6 deadline. “We applaud the Republican electors in those states for showing up and casting the votes,” the campaign’s senior legal counsel Jenna Ellis told Just the News.

The Republican electors in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona all said they voted for Trump. It comes as their states formally appointed Democratic electors who voted for Biden and running mate Kamala Harris, according to the Epoch Times. The Pennsylvania GOP said in a news release that electors met at the state capital to “cast a conditional vote” for Trump and Pence “at the request of the Trump campaign.” Democratic electors voted in the Pennsylvania Electoral College for Biden and Harris.

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“If Dominion vote tabulation machines all over America are not allowed to be hooked up to the Internet, how can they be a network? And why would they need a server?”

Offstage Noises (Jim Kunstler)

President Trump’s 2018 Executive Order 13848 requires the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), John Ratcliffe, to report forty-five days after the election on foreign election interference. That’s this Friday. What might Mr. Ratcliffe know? Well, supposedly everything. Except both the CIA and the FBI must be considered undependable now, with RussiaGate prankster Gina Haspel in charge of the CIA, and Christopher Wray slow-walking every requested declassified FBI document for years. So, Mr. Ratcliffe must be receiving more dependable intelligence from others, most likely Defense Intelligence. Many readers may have heard about a supposed raid on the CIA cyber-warfare station in Frankfurt, Germany, and the seizure there of the Dominion computer servers by US Army special ops personnel.

Forty-five days was probably enough time for Defense Intelligence to run forensic analysis on those servers, if, in fact, they existed and the raid actually happened. Standing by on that. We just don’t know. But if so, then Mr. Ratcliffe must have some results by now. What nobody has asked is: in the first place, what on earth would the Dominion servers be doing in Frankfurt, outside the USA, in possession of the CIA? Is the CIA monitoring the vote tabulation… or assisting in it? This raises another question no one has addressed: Servers serve computer networks, which operate via the Internet. If Dominion vote tabulation machines all over America are not allowed to be hooked up to the Internet, how can they be a network? And why would they need a server? If I’m missing something there, please discuss in the comments section.

Which raises another question: Is there not sufficient evidence to see that the use of computers has completely screwed up our election process? Is this not a classic Joseph Tainter style quandary of overinvestments in complexity producing diminishing returns — which, when enough of them pile up, gets you to the collapse of civilizations? Are we going to allow further screw-ups by letting the State of Georgia conduct their January 5 senate run-off election on the same Dominion machines that they used on November 3? Apparently, that’s exactly what Georgia intends to do.

Read more …

Did Bill Barr just make room for Trump to pardon Assange and Snowden?

Barr Steps Down As AG, Decries ‘Frenzied And Baseless’ Russia Allegations (JTN)

William Barr has decided to step down as attorney general before Christmas, ending a tumultuous tenure that saw his department clear President Trump of Russia collusion and crack down on violent gangs, Chinese spies and religious liberty violations. Trump announced the departure Monday evening on Twitter shortly after meeting with Barr, ending a tense week in which the president and his allies criticized the attorney general for both failing to reveal the existence of a Hunter Biden probe before the election and taking little public action to punish those who perpetrated the false Russian collusion narrative, “Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job!” Trump tweeted. “As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family.”

“Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, an outstanding person, will become Acting Attorney General. Highly respected Richard Donoghue will be taking over the duties of Deputy Attorney General. Thank you to all!” the president added. In his letter, Barr revealed his last day will be Dec. 23 and that the purpose of his meeting with the president Monday was to brief the president about his department’s efforts to investigate voter fraud. Barr also went out of his way in the letter to decry the “frenzied and baseless” narrative of Russia collusion that hampered the first two-plus years of the Trump presidency.

“Your record is all the more historic because you accomplished it in the face of relentless, implacable resistance. Your 2016 victory speech in which you reached out to your opponents and called for working together for the benefit of the American people was immediately met by a partisan onslaught against you in which no tactic no matter how abusive and deceitful was out of bounds,” Barr wrote. “The nadir of this campaign was the effort to cripple, if not oust your administration, with frenzied and baseless accusations of collusion with Russia,” he added.

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Calls for pardons are getting loud.

The Case For Pardoning Edward Snowden By President Trump (Greenwald)

A U.S. appellate court in September unanimously ruled that the NSA’s program of mass domestic surveillance was illegal, as well as likely a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The court, and the broader public, knew about this illegal mass surveillance program created by the NSA only because Edward Snowden, while working inside that agency, discovered its existence and concluded in 2012 that the American public has the right know about what was being secretly done to them and their privacy by their own government. Upon making the decision to blow the whistle on this security state illegality, Snowden delivered the documents relating to that program and other then-unknown systems of mass online surveillance not by dumping them indiscriminately on the internet or selling them or passing them to foreign governments, but by providing them to journalists (including myself) with The Guardian, The Washington Post and other news outlets.

The documents Snowden provided were accompanied by requests to report them responsibly. He thus relinquished the power entirely to make decisions about which documents would and would not be published, leaving those decisions exclusively to news outlets. That meant that Snowden himself never made a single document publicly available; every document that was reported was the result of decisions by newsrooms around the world that their publication would be in the public interest and would not endanger innocent people. That method of whistleblowing chosen by Snowden — patterned after the one Daniel Ellsberg used in 1971 to make the public aware of years of lying to the American public by the U.S. Government about the Vietnam War, when he gave the top-secret Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and asked them to report it in the public interest — enabled journalists to inform the American citizenry about illegal and unconstitutional spying by the U.S. Government in the most responsible manner possible.

Indeed, the very first program we reported — on June 6, 2013 — was the mass domestic spying program which the appellate court just ruled was illegal and likely a violation of the constitutional rights of all Americans. That first article we published revealed a top secret court order under which “the National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers,” and required major telecommunications carriers “on an ‘ongoing, daily basis’ to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.”

The months of reporting that followed, all singularly enabled by Snowden’s courageous whistleblowing, triggered so much vital public debate about privacy and mass surveillance, and fostered so many legal and technological privacy reforms around the world, that the reporting earned virtually every award journalism has to give, including the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. For those who have not seen it, the 2014 documentary by Laura Poitras about the work Snowden did with journalists, Citizenfour, which received the 2015 Academy Award for Best Documentary, shows much of the Snowden story in real time and can be viewed on YouTube; the feature film “Snowden,” available on Netflix and other platforms, separately explores the trajectory which Snowden traversed from enlisted U.S. Army soldier, CIA contractor and NSA expert to one of this generation’s most consequential whistleblowers.

Read more …

“I support pardons for Snowden, Assange and especially Chelsea Manning. All exposed the criminality of the Bush-Obama/Biden period.”

Left and Right Unite in Calls for Snowden Pardon (MPN)

Amid mounting speculation that President Trump is about to announce a list of presidential pardons, calls for — and against — NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s name to be included are growing louder. In November, as is customary, Donald Trump pardoned a turkey for Thanksgiving. Now, in the lame duck session of his presidency, he appears to be making a customary list of people to pardon as well. Influential and well-connected publication Axios reported, in a scandalized tone, that he is planning to hand out pardons “like Christmas gifts” to “every person who ever talked to [him].” In August, the president was asked about Snowden specifically, responding by saying that, “I’m going to take a very good look at it. I’ve seen people that are very conservative and very liberal and they agree on the same issue…I’m going to take a look at that very strongly.”


Now, a host of figures are calling in unison for Trump to follow through on the proposal. “President Trump is listening to the many of us who are urging him to pardon Snowden. It’s the right thing to do,” Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz said yesterday. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul agreed, slamming former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in the process. “Clapper brazenly lied to Congress denying that the Deep State was spying on all Americans. Snowden simply revealed Clapper’s lies and exposed unconstitutional spying. He deserves a pardon from Donald Trump,” he wrote. Those calls were joined by a number of voices on the left, including former Green Party vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, who said, “I support pardons for Snowden, Assange and especially Chelsea Manning. All exposed the criminality of the Bush-Obama/Biden period.” The American Civil Liberties Union, who have previously described Snowden as a “patriot,” concurred, stating, “Edward Snowden blew the whistle on illegal government activity kept secret for years. Our democracy is better off because of him.”

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“Wasn’t Trump supposed to be the anti-Deep State candidate? Now’s his chance to prove it.”

Trump’s Last Chance to Snub the Deep State (SCF)

The Trump administration calls the International Criminal Court a kangaroo court. He refuses to allow any U.S. soldier to be brought before the court for purported war crimes in Afghanistan. None of the court investigators or judges will receive visas to enter U.S. territory. Any property or bank accounts they have in the U.S. will be confiscated. If any court is a disingenuous kangaroo court it is the extradition trial against Julian Assange, in London. The first magistrate who sat in judgment of possible extradition to the U.S. for alleged violations of its Espionage Act, is a subject in Wikileaks’ revelations. Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, and her husband, James Arbuthnot, who was a defense minister for procurement, have “earned” money from two companies exposed by Wikileaks.

During the August-September extradition hearings, Arbuthnot “stepped down” to be supervisor of the new magistrate, Vanessa Baraitser. During three weeks of hearings, Baraitser looked at her laptop to read decisions she had written before defense lawyers had made their arguments, or witnesses had testified. I am not the only one hoping that Donald Trump will do the right thing with Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden too. The last president, one Trump hates, first put Assange’s key whistleblower in prison, in isolation, under torture. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years. Obama leaving office with a gesture of “goodwill”, commuted Chelsea’s sentence once she served seven years. She was later jailed for another year for not snitching on Julian.

Tulsi Gabbard, the only Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 who wasn’t a war hawk, is asking Trump for goodwill. She tweeted tagging Trump, “Since you’re giving pardons to people, please consider pardoning those who, at great personal sacrifice, exposed the deception and criminality of those in the deep state,” and named Assange and Snowden for him to drop charges. The proposal for Trump to pardon Assange was also endorsed at this recent webinar which included speakers Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, Law Professor Marjorie Cohn, Consortium News editor-in-chief Joe Lauria. If Trump did the honorable thing of halting the persecution of Julian Assange, it would be a blow for freedom and a middle finger to the Deep State including Obama and Clinton. Wasn’t Trump supposed to be the anti-Deep State candidate? Now’s his chance to prove it.

Read more …

“They totally caved..”

Democrats Make Wreck of Covid-19 Relief Negotiations (Taibbi)

A senior Democratic congressional aide is irate tonight. “The Democrats,” the aide seethed, “have just done the worst negotiating in modern history.” At issue: a pair of new Covid-19 relief bills, just submitted by a bipartisan group of Senators. Republican Senator Susan Collins gushed that a“Christmas Miracle” allowed the two parties came together on the twin bills, which the press describes as totaling $748 billion and $160 billion, respectively. “Bipartisanship and compromise is [sic] alive and well in Washington,” clucked West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. It sure is. With the election over, the Democratic leadership in the space of a few weeks somehow negotiated against themselves, working with Republicans to push the total amount of a Covid-19 relief deal further and further downward, to the point where previous plans offered by the likes of Mitch McConnell and Steve Mnuchin now look like LBJ’s Great Society.

Democrats ultimately settled for less than a third of what they had set as a baseline for state and local aid, accepted a package without any $1,200 direct payments, and signed off on a plan that, after offsets, includes less than $350 billion in new money, well below a slew of pre-election proposals rejected by Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer as being too low. “They totally caved,” the aide says. Back in May, the Democrat-led House passed the HEROES Act, a $3.4 trillion relief package that was pitched as the bill Democrats really wanted. It contained $413 billion new dollars for $1,200 direct payments to citizens, as well as $437 billion in additional unemployment benefits, and a whopping $1.13 trillion for state and local governments.

Trump said the bill was “dead on arrival,” McConnell blasted it as a “$3 trillion left-wing wish list,” and the anti-spending group Taxpayers for Common Sense seethed that Democrats unrealistically put “everything they could think of” in the bill. Still, Democrats insisted this was the right amount, at the right time, a moral necessity. “The House has passed a major bill dealing with COVID,” Schumer said in May, blasting his Senate Republican colleagues for a “pause” in negotiations. “We have done nothing.”

Read more …

Meanwhile, what a mess.

Stimulus Bill Bails Out Defense Contractors, Denies Families Payments (DP)

Earlier this year, Republican senators slammed the idea of spending money to pay Americans not to work during the pandemic. Only a few months later, a group of GOP senators has signed onto stimulus legislation that would authorize the government to pay idle defense contractors to not work, even as those contractors’ rack up big profits during the pandemic. Meanwhile, the same bill excludes bipartisan provisions authorizing direct payments to millions of Americans struggling to survive. The stimulus legislation released by Republican and Democratic senators this afternoon includes an extension of a program to replace the wages of certain government contractors who miss work due to COVID-19.

The program, Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, allows federal agencies to reimburse contractors who are unable to work in person due to the pandemic, and whose jobs do not allow telework, for up to 40 hours per week of lost wages. In effect, the program uses government money to reimburse defense contractors for giving paid leave to their employees. The provision was added to the last page of the 525-page bill after defense contractors sent a letter to congressional lawmakers lobbying for the language. The same bill does not authorize direct payments to millions of Americans — nor does it reimburse small businesses for providing paid leave benefits to their workers.

While the bill would fund $300-a-week in new federal unemployment benefits, that’s half as much as Congress distributed under the CARES Act — and millions of people will still see their unemployment benefits lapse on December 26, as it will likely take weeks to reprogram state unemployment systems. “This is about need and not greed,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., one of the Democratic sponsors of the bill who has called new direct payments to families “a bad idea.” Nearly 12 million U.S. renters will be behind $5,850 in rent by January, according to the Washington Post. Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., have been pushing lawmakers to include language in stimulus legislation giving $1,200 stimulus checks to millions of families. That was not included in the same stimulus that includes the subsidy program for defense contractors.

In July, Senate Republicans introduced a stimulus package which included $11 billion in appropriations to reimburse defense contractors for payments made under Section 3610, following lobbying from the defense industry. “Section 3610 provides authority for agencies to cover from existing funds certain contractor costs and keep key personnel and skilled workers in a ready state,” lobbying groups and executives from representing defense contractors and other government contractors wrote on December 11.

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How is it possible that in so many countries that failed so miserably in their pandemic fights, all the same faces hold on to all their same jobs?

Fauci: Masks, Social Distancing Likely Needed Until ‘Early Next Winter’ (JTN)

As the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine gets underway, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the American public should anticipate likely needing to wear masks and socially distancing through next winter. Fauci was asked Monday when he thinks society will be able to get back to pre-coronavirus normality. “I think we will know when we see the level of infection in the country at a dramatically lower level than it is right now that we can start gradually tiptoeing towards normality,” Fauci said during a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategy and International Studies. “I don’t believe we’re going to be able to throw the masks away and forget about physical separation and congregate settings for a while, probably likely until we get into the late fall and early next winter, but I think we can do it. The numbers will guide us.”


Fauci also said that having a vaccine distributed before the end of the year was “unimaginable” at the beginning of the pandemic. He referred to Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership implemented under the Trump administration, as a “success story,” given that a “group of vaccines” for COVID-19 have been produced. “I think Operation Warp Speed, putting hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, into facilitating the technical aspects of the trial, the clinical trial, the pre-purchasing of hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine is unprecedented,” he said. “So it’s really quite a success story, I must say.”

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We should have this down by now. We don’t.

The Covid-19 Data is a ‘Travesty’ (OffG)

If we turn our attention back to the Covid death data, just because someone has tested positive for Covid-19 and died sometime after (even if we put aside for a second that some tests are known to give false positives), that does not mean that Covid-19 caused that person to die. Yet, the main figure certain countries around the world are using to express Covid-19 deaths is simply recorded, or coded, as essentially any death involving a positive Covid-19 test within 28 days of death. Because correlation does not equal causation, simply recording Covid-19 deaths as any deaths involving a positive Covid-19 test within a given period of time is an extremely poor way to measure how many people have died. For instance, in the UK, the main figure being used for Covid-19 deaths is coded, as stated on the official Coronavirus website, as the…

number of deaths of people who had had a positive test result for COVID-19 and died within 28 days of the first positive test. This completely ignores the problem of causality, and thus, produces a much larger death toll than there actually is. For instance, if someone has had an underlying heart condition for 10 years, and has a heart complication and dies, their death was most likely mainly caused by the heart condition that has plagued them for a decade. However, if that person had tested positive for Covid-19 for the first time within 28 days of them dying, that person could be included as a Covid-19 death in the UK, if all is required to be categorized as a Covid-19 death is simply a positive test result.

For those who understand that the way you code deaths dramatically changes the number of deaths you get, the UK authorities kindly illustrate this for us. There is a second number recorded by UK authorities which codes deaths as… people whose death certificate mentioned COVID-19 as one of the causes. By coding deaths this way, there are thousands more Covid-19 deaths compared to when deaths are coded as… people who had had a positive test result for COVID-19 and died within 28 days of the first positive test. Despite the UK authorities having two ways to code Covid-19 deaths however, none of them are particularly accurate in my opinion. This is because the positive test figure does not deal with the issue of causality, and the death certificate figure only mentions Covid as needing to be “one of the causes” of death, rather than “the primary cause,” in addition to the death certificate figure not explicitly demanding the need for a positive Covid-19 test result.

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Right on cue, Guaido and Navalny are back in the western news, two people who play no role whatsoever in their own home countries. What’s the mechanism behind this?

Venezuela’s Guaido-Led Opposition Holds Alternative Vote, Burns Ballots (RT)

Venezuelan opposition led by US-backed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido has held “popular consultations” to demonstrate rejection of the nation’s government after boycotting parliamentary vote but ended up burning ballots instead. The so-called “popular consultations” organized by the supporters of the self-styled “interim president” started online on Monday and concluded with an in-person participation on Saturday. The move was held after an official election held earlier this month handed control over the Venezuelan National Assembly to President Nicolas Maduro’s Socialist PSUV party. As it was during the 2018 presidential elections that handed victory to Maduro himself, most of the opposition boycotted the official vote.

After losing what was considered its last institutional stronghold, Guaido’s supporters decided to demonstrate the scale of the alleged popular rejection of the Venezuelan government they continue to call illegitimate. Although the turnout for the official election was not particularly high, Guaido’s initiative has hardly faired any better since, according to the organizers’ own estimates cited by Reuters, just under 6.5 million out of roughly 17.5 million eligible voters took part in the “consultation,” including some 845,000 people living abroad. The outcome of the “consultation” did not seem to affect the political situation in the Latin American nation hit by strict US sanctions targeting its oil sector and exacerbating a prolonged economic crisis.

Maduro himself brushed off the opposition’s initiative by saying that “no internet consultation has constitutional status” or any “legal value.” In 11 out of 24 Venezuela’s states, the law enforcement sought to disrupt the in-person participation in the “consultation” by removing the informal voting sites, the organizers complained. Still, they themselves ended up destroying all the traces of the “consultation”, at least at some of the improvised polling stations. A video published on the social media shows a pile of ballots and voting records burning on the floor at one of such sites in the northern Miranda state. The organizers claimed they did so to protect the identities of the participants.

Read more …

“..the murder of Grigory Rasputin in December 1916 proves “Russia’s penchant for poisoning”

Sunday Times Claims Navalny Was Poisoned Twice (Robinson)

This weekend’s article in the Sunday Times is probably meant to undermine the doubters. In reality, it’s likely to have the opposite result. For its claims are so outrageous that many thinking people will react with laughter, and then perhaps start questioning the poisoning story as a whole. According to the Sunday Times, Navalny wasn’t poisoned by a nerve agent smeared on his water bottle, as has previously been asserted, but rather was attacked by means of his underpants. Moreover, he wasn’t poisoned once, but twice, and despite Novichok’s reputation for extreme deadliness, both attempts failed.

When examined, though, these claims don’t amount to much. The Sunday Times story is nearly 4,000 words long, but 95 percent of it is irrelevant filler, including the comical assertion that the murder of Grigory Rasputin in December 1916 proves “Russia’s penchant for poisoning” (because, of course, nobody other than Russians ever poisoned anyone). The allegations regarding the attack on Navalny take up a mere 100 words of the 4,000-word total. As well as being brief, they are to say the least unproven. The Sunday Times says: “Vladimir Uglev, a retired Russian chemist who developed nerve agents, believes Navalny’s poisoners would have been instructed to place novichok on the elastic waistband of his pants, where it would come into contact with his skin. … A German laboratory later found traces of a nerve agent on the surface of one of the water bottles. Uglev, the retired chemist, believes that this is because Navalny touched it having got novichok on his fingers after putting on his underpants.”

In other words, the underpants story is just what a single Russian scientist, unconnected to the case, happens to think. Nothing more. Does Uglev provide any evidence to prove his assertion? No. He just “believes” it. Yet, this is sufficient for the Sunday Times to treat the story as essentially true, leading off its article with the claim that, “Navalny was exposed to a nerve agent – not, as initially believed, when he drank a cup of tea in the departure lounge but when he got dressed that morning.” This is not exactly good reporting. If the underwear story smells a little off, so too does the claim that Russian secret agents tried to murder Navalny not once, but twice.

As evidence, the Sunday Times says that, “German security sources have told their associates in the UK that the attackers struck again as Navalny lay in an induced coma before being put on a medical flight to Germany. ‘This was with a view to him being dead by the time he arrived in Berlin,’ one source said.” To put it another way, an anonymous person (probably a member of the British intelligence or security services) told a journalist that some other anonymous person believes that this is so. In other words, it’s not just hearsay, but anonymous hearsay. One can believe it if one wishes. But there’s no particular reason why one should.

Read more …

 

 

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Oct 022020
 


Fred Stein Brute man 1946

 

President Trump Says He And First Lady Have COVID19 (JTN)
What Happens If President Trump Contracts COVID19 (Hudak)
Trump Job Approval Rises To Highest Since May, Majority Expect Him To Win (HA)
Navalny ‘Is Working With CIA’: Kremlin (RT)
Comey’s Casual Testimony Confirms the Worst About His Tenure (Turley)
Since 1976, WaPo Has Panicked At Thought Of The GOP Winning White House (DC)
It Is Time To Dismiss The Flynn Case (Turely)
FAA Chief Test Flies 737 MAX; Says More Fixes Needed (CNN)
How Does International Capital Flow? (BIS)
Small Firm Bust Accelerates As Bankruptcies Soar In September (ZH)
Shooting Unarmed Civilians In Iraq Would Still Be A Secret But For Assange (ES)
We Must Avoid Being Diverted Towards Terminal Cynicism (Cook)
The America I Loved Has Gone Forever (Feierstein)

 

 

Melania

 

 

 

 

Let’s see how gracious the reactions are.

President Trump Says He And First Lady Have COVID19 (JTN)

President Trump said early Friday morning that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19. The announcement that Trump, 74, and his wife have the virus and will quarantine comes in the homestretch of the presidential race, throwing uncertainty into Trump’s reelection effort against Democratic challenger Joe Biden with just 33 days remaining before the Nov. 3 election. It also followed news reports late Thursday that White House adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive – immediately raising concerns about whether the president had been exposed. Trump made the announcement on Twitter at 12:54 a.m. ET.

“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” he posted. “We will get through this TOGETHER!” The White House just after midnight Friday issued a revised scheduled in which Trump’s planned trip to Florida later in the day was no longer on the agenda. However, the full impact of Trump testing positive and having to quarantine during his reelection effort remains unclear. The president’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, issued an official statement late Thursday, saying the president and his wife had tested positive for the SARS-CoV- 2 virus and were “both well at this time.”

He also said he expected the president to “continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.” Trump on Thursday evening before reports about Hick and him testing positive did a live phone interview on Fox News’ “Hannity” show in which he gave no indication of being sick. Despite have the best medical care possible, the president having the virus is a serious health issue considering that eight out of every 10 virus-related deaths in the U.S. are among those 65 and older.

Read more …

From July 2020. There are entire sets of protocols set into motion. Things will be pretty calm as long as Trump is not hospitalized.

What Happens If President Trump Contracts COVID19 (Hudak)

A positive COVID-19 test for the president, in itself, is not a cause for emergency action. Millions of people around the world have contracted the disease and have been asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. The president would likely be able to continue his everyday activities and manage the office either undisturbed or with mild challenges. A presidential diagnosis would create some challenges for those around him. The need for 24-hour Secret Service protection could put agents at risk for contracting it. But given modern technology, the president could quarantine and have remote or sufficiently distanced contact from most, if not all, aides, including the individual(s) who would be involved in the presidential daily brief.

There would need to be other precautions taken, even if the president were to be asymptomatic. First, those in the line of succession would need to be protected. It would be important to keep Vice President Pence, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Grassley (President Pro Tempore), and members of the cabinet isolated from the president. It would be especially important to ensure that the vice president have limited contact with individuals generally to reduce his chances of contracting the virus as well. Second, it would be important for the president to continue to communicate with the American public, especially if he is mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic. Seeing the president on camera can restore faith in his wellness, calm nervous Americans, stabilize stock markets (that would surely see a dip in the event of a positive test), and project to the world that the president remains well enough to execute the office.

We’ve experienced something like this before. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a serious stroke, and his wife kept even his closest advisers from seeing the president, likely out of fear that they would find him incapacitated and thus throwing the nation into a serious leadership crisis. Such a scenario (hiding the president’s condition) would not be possible today, but an extended absence of a president—especially during a pandemic—would raise serious questions and become a destabilizing force in politics, the economy, and the public.

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“..this question — whom do you think is *likely* to win? — has correctly predicted the popular-vote winner in every election back to 1996.”

Trump Job Approval Rises To Highest Since May, Majority Expect Him To Win (HA)

His approval rating today: 46 percent. Barack Obama’s approval rating eight years ago today: 47 percent. Trump’s not licked yet. There are two differences between them, though. One is that Trump’s disapproval rating stands at 52 percent. Obama’s was 46 percent. Flipping someone who’s undecided into your column is a lot easier than flipping someone who disapproves of you, which is the task facing Trump with that crucial three or four percent that he still needs. The other difference is that O’s job approval soon rose above 50 and he ended up spending nearly all of that month at or above 49 percent. Trump has touched 49 just a few times since 2017 in Gallup’s polling, typically landing between 41-46 percent. He’s never reached 50. And on every major issue with the notable exception of the economy, disapproval of him is north of 50.

A look at the RCP average shows that Gallup’s numbers are no fluke, which seems incongruous. The state and national polling against Biden has been grim this week for Trump and yet his approval rating remains a decent 45.5 percent. How can his chances of winning the election be slipping if his job approval isn’t? Part of the answer lies in the last paragraph: Pretty much everyone who’s not pro-Trump is anti-Trump, not undecided, and the latter group is bigger than the former. But there’s also a fascinating discrepancy between his job approval and his head-to-head polling against Biden that’s shown up in a number of surveys. Namely, there’s some small but meaningful number of voters who say they approve of his performance — but are voting for the Democrat anyway. Compare the last six months of Trump’s job approval, where he enjoyed a rating of 45-46 both before and after this year’s summer swoon…

Here’s another interesting number from the same Gallup poll that’s out today:

You can read that various ways. Maybe it’s nothing more than the residue of Trump’s shocking 2016 win at work. The polls predicted Hillary would win last time, Hillary didn’t win, so there’s no reason to trust the polls this time. Another way to read it is as a sign of a secret preference for Trump. If you’re all-in on the “shy Trump voter” theory of why his polling is poor against Biden, here’s your evidence that some independents and maybe even some Democrats are secretly planning to vote for him. They won’t tell a pollster straight out that they prefer him to Biden, but ask them who they think will win and their hidden preference creeps into that answer. It should be noted that this question — whom do you think is *likely* to win? — has correctly predicted the popular-vote winner in every election back to 1996. In 2000 and 2016, more Americans thought Gore and Clinton would win, and they did indeed get the most votes that fall. The wrinkle, though, is that the streak is all but certain to end next month: While Trump stands a fair chance of winning the electoral college, no one apart from the most diehard members of the MAGA base expects him to win the popular vote. Even his campaign doesn’t pretend that he has a serious shot at it …

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The western media attention has to come from somewhere.

Navalny ‘Is Working With CIA’: Kremlin (RT)

Western intelligence agencies – in particular, agents from the American CIA – are working with Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman alleged on Thursday. “Probably, it is not the patient [Navalny] who works for the Western special services, but that the Western intelligence services who work with him – this would be more correct [to say],” Dmitry Peskov explained. “I can even be specific: these days, specialists from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States of America are working with him.” “This isn’t the first time he’s been given different instructions,” the spokesman continued. “The instructions given to the patient are obvious. We have seen such patterns of behavior on more than one occasion.”

The bombshell allegation comes just hours after Navalny claimed Putin was behind his alleged poisoning in August. He told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine that he had “no other explanation for what happened.” Peskov took umbrage at the activist’s comments alleging Putin’s involvement in the incident, dismissing them as “baseless” and “insulting.” He told reporters “we believe that such accusations against the Russian president are absolutely unfounded and unacceptable.” German officials alleged, last month, that Navalny had been targeted with a nerve agent from the ‘Novichok’ family. “We want to investigate the case of the Berlin patient [Navalny] and establish the cause of what happened,” Peskov explained, expressing doubt about the veracity of the German analysis. “For this, we need to get information from those who found traces of poisoning.”

The Kremlin has previously complained that Berlin has been uncooperative in providing evidence that the Moscow protest leader had indeed been attacked with Novichok. Peskov also commented on Navalny’s intention to return to Russia, as expressed to Der Spiegel, observing that he saw no heroism in his declaration. “Any citizen of Russia can return to his homeland at any time,” the spokesman outlined. “Treatment can take place in our country, in fact, almost all people avail of this. Lives are saved in our country, and the life of this patient was also saved in Russia.” This refers to when Navalny had initially been hospitalized in Siberia

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Casual?! Interesting choice of words.

Comey’s Casual Testimony Confirms the Worst About His Tenure (Turley)

In his long-awaited testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony proved as casual as his appearance in an open shirt from his home office. Comey was hammered with embarrassing findings of errors under his watch in the handling of the Russian investigation, including the reliance on information that FBI agents warned might be Russian disinformation supplied by a Russian agent. After years of investigation, the FBI was unable to show that a single Trump official conspired or colluded with the Russians. Instead, investigations found extensive errors, irregular and criminal conduct, and statements of intense bias by key FBI figures. Yet, Comey proceeded to give what amounted to a series of shrugs in either denying any recollection of such information or deflecting responsibility to others.

Comey was asked about an intelligence report suggesting that Hillary Clinton personally approved an effort “to stir up a scandal against U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump by tying him to Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee.” The report was reportedly sufficiently serious to be included in a briefing of President Barack Obama. However, when asked about his knowledge, Comey again shrugged and said it “didn’t ring a bell.” That’s it. The fact is that the allegation against Clinton (like the one against Trump that launched the Russian investigation) was unverified and could be legitimately questioned. There is a fair question on why the FBI went all in on one allegation and not the other. When asked “did you have a duty to look at any allegations regarding Clinton in Russia?” Comey simply replied “I don’t know what you mean.”

Yet, the more interesting question is what exactly does “ring the bell” of James Comey. Recent disclosures have added to the very serious allegations of misconduct in the handling of the Russian investigation. Highly critical reports by the Inspector General and the secret FISA court detailed critical omissions and outright false information used as the basis for the investigation. This includes conduct leading to the firing of the top FBI officials and agents involved in the investigation and a recent criminal plea by the key FBI agent in charge of the FISA applications. Comey however seemed locked in some Kübler-Ross loop, stuck between denial and transference.

[..] Comey also made a series of false statements. He repeated, for example, the long-standing denial that there was any surveillance of the Trump campaign. New information shows that the FBI used a briefing in August 2016 of then candidate Trump to gather information for “Crossfire Hurricane,” the Russia investigation. While Comey is still denying this fact, other Democrats have already moved on from the denial of any surveillance of the campaign. After the disclosure, Rep. Eric Swalwell declared that “they were right to do it.”

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The party’s paper.

Since 1976, WaPo Has Panicked At Thought Of The GOP Winning White House (DC)

On September 28, The Washington Post officially endorsed Joe Biden for president. That may not come as a shock to anyone with a passing knowledge of the liberal newspaper, but the Post paints this year as unique and different. The unsigned editorial calls Trump the “worst president of modern times” and warns readers that “democracy is at stake.” An anyone-but-Trump anti-endorsement on August 21 lectured that “a second Trump term might injure the democratic experiment beyond recovery.” Get it? You must vote for Biden because democracy itself is in danger. However, for the Washington Post, this year’s endorsement is exactly like every other. I tracked down and reviewed every Washington Post presidential endorsement since the paper began regularly picking candidates in 1976.

Here’s the box score: 11 endorsements of Democratic presidential candidates. 0 endorsements of Republican presidential candidates. 1 non-endorsement (in 1988). The Democrats have exciting, “supple” (Barack Obama in 2008) candidates who inspire hope. In contrast, Republicans are reckless (John McCain in 2008) and bad on race (George H.W. Bush in 1992), to name a few of the paper’s concerns. While some Post endorsements were more enthusiastic than others, the conclusion is always the same: America MUST elect a Democrat president. Sometimes, the Post will tell its readers not to be cynical. This isn’t a choice between the lesser of two evils, they say.

The paper’s 2020 endorsement of Biden cheers: “Fortunately, to oust President Trump in 2020, voters do not have to lower their standards. The Democratic nominee, former vice president Joe Biden, is exceptionally well-qualified, by character and experience, to meet the daunting challenges that the nation will face over the coming four years.” If that sounds familiar, it should. Turns out, Democrats had a great candidate in Hillary Clinton in 2016: “In the gloom and ugliness of this political season, one encouraging truth is often overlooked: There is a well-qualified, well-prepared candidate on the ballot. Hillary Clinton has the potential to be an excellent president of the United States, and we endorse her without hesitation.”

That language echoed through the decades. In 1984, the Post tried to dissuade Americans from reelecting Ronald Reagan, “enthusiastically and without apology” endorsing Walter Mondale: “He is a decent man and a diligent, hard-working one who has been a good Democratic leader…. We say this is a serious, steady, bright, decent, qualified man who wants to be president and who should be.” 49 out of 50 states rejected the paper’s advice, reelecting Reagan in a landslide.

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“I cannot assure you that if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentence of incarceration. I am not hiding my disgust and my disdain.”

It Is Time To Dismiss The Flynn Case (Turely)

When Michael Flynn heads to court for his final sentencing hearing today, a lifetime of respected national service will hang in the balance on what is said and done. I am not talking about Flynn but of Judge Emmet Sullivan. There is no issue over the dismissal of the charge of Flynn lying to federal investigators. The only issue is whether, just before an election, Sullivan will use the hearing as a forum for injudicious commentary. I have practiced law for years before Sullivan and praised him for his demeanor and record as a judge. He has served with distinction since 1994 in cases ranging from Guantanamo Bay detainees to the flawed prosecution of Ted Stevens to the emails of Hillary Clinton. Then came the case of Flynn, who was charged with a single count of lying to federal investigators.

Such a charge ordinarily would result in a short sentencing hearing. Flynn fought the charge but, after exhausting his assets and facing threats by prosecutors to target his son, he agreed to plead to one count. Even the uncooperative witness like Alex Van Der Zwaan received only 30 days in prison on a similar charge related to the investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller. Yet this is the third attempt at sentencing for Flynn, as what should have been the simple hearing two years ago was derailed by Sullivan himself. Both Flynn and the prosecutors believed they would have a perfunctory hearing and a likely sentence without jail time. After all, this was just one count, and Flynn pleaded guilty, then met with Mueller about 20 times as a cooperative witness. Furthermore, we know federal investigators at the time did not believe Flynn intentionally lied to them. Yet when Flynn went to court, he was given a scolding rather than a sentence.

Using the flag in court as a prop, Sullivan falsely accused Flynn of being an “unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security adviser” who sold his country out. Sullivan even suggested Flynn should have been charged with treason, then suggested he might ignore any recommendations and send Flynn to jail when he declared, “I cannot assure you that if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentence of incarceration. I am not hiding my disgust and my disdain.” Sullivan apologized for some of his comments, but the hearing led to a critical delay. During that time, new evidence emerged that cast further doubt on the investigation of Flynn, including the material showing that FBI agents wanted to close the case in 2016 due to lack of evidence. The investigation was kept open at the insistence of fired FBI special agent Peter Strzok, who showed intense animus for President Trump.

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Translation: the FAA always gave in to anything Boeing said. But now it’s their own reputations on the line.

FAA Chief Test Flies 737 MAX; Says More Fixes Needed (CNN)

Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson says he has some suggestions for new changes to the Boeing 737 MAX after piloting the grounded jetliner Wednesday. “I like what I saw on the flight,” said Dickson, a former airline pilot who flew earlier versions of the 737. “That doesn’t mean I don’t have some debrief items going forward,” said Dickson after his two-hour flight from Seattle’s Boeing Field. Dickson said he’d like to see tweaks “not so much in the procedures, but in the narrative that describes the procedures.” Federal regulators are still evaluating Boeing’s proposed safety changes to the embattled design after a pair of fatal crashes abroad killed 346 people, grounding the plane worldwide in March 2019.


Dickson stressed his unorthodox flight was not part of the official FAA recertification process — which Dickson said is in the home stretch. The 18-month grounding has cost Boeing at least $18 billion. And it has missed a series of target dates for getting approval for the plane to again carry passengers. Before the Covid-19 pandemic it had been expecting approval for the plane by the middle of this year. But the pandemic, and the resulting plunge in air travel worldwide, has led virtually all airlines to park a large percentage of their planes, reducing the need for Boeing (BA) to win the approval for the plane to fly sooner than later.

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“Modelling #GrossCapitalFlows sheds new light on classic debates, including that #CurrentAccounts are poor vulnerability indicators and that global imbalances are likely driven by a credit glut rather than a #SavingsGlut”

How Does International Capital Flow? (BIS)

Understanding gross capital flows is increasingly viewed as crucial for both macroeconomic and financial stability policies, but theory is lagging behind many key policy debates. We fill this gap by developing a two-country DSGE model that tracks domestic and cross-border gross positions between banks and households, with explicit settlement of all transactions through banks. We formalise the conceptual distinction between cross-border saving and financing, which often move in opposite directions in response to shocks. This matters for at least four policy debates.


First, current accounts are poor indicators of financial vulnerability, because in a crisis, creditors stop financing debt rather than current accounts, and because following a crisis, current accounts are not the primary channel through which balance sheets adjust. Second, we reinterpret the global saving glut hypothesis by arguing that US households do not finance current account deficits with foreigners’ physical saving, but with digital purchasing power, created by banks that are more likely to be domestic than foreign. Third, Triffin’s current account dilemma is not in fact a dilemma, because the creation of additional US dollars requires dollar credit creation by US and non-US banks rather than US current account deficits. Finally, we demonstrate that the observed high correlation of gross capital inflows and outflows is overwhelmingly an automatic consequence of double entry bookkeeping, rather than the result of two separate sets of economic decisions.

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The damage is real.

Small Firm Bust Accelerates As Bankruptcies Soar In September (ZH)

Policies promoted by the White House and the Federal Reserve to support small firms have been widely insufficient as bankruptcy filings are back to levels not seen since the dark days of the virus pandemic, according to Bloomberg, citing a new report via bankruptcy court data firm Epiq AACER. At least 620 companies filed for Chapter 11 protection in the first 25 days of September, a 48% increase over the same period last year. Bankruptcy filings in June and July saw 609 and 644, respectively. Chris Kruse, senior vice president at Epiq, said, “we’re seeing a continued strong flow of Chapter 11 filings in September, consistent with what we saw in June and July,” adding that “they range from businesses with small footprints to high street retailers.”

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has admitted the Fed’s lending program for smaller businesses has been challenging. “Trying to underwrite the credit of hundreds of thousands of very small businesses would be very difficult,” Powell said. As a result, most of the Fed’s liquidity flowed to mega-corporations while smaller ones were shut out, leaving them widely exposed to bankruptcy as a fiscal cliff, which started on July 31, has ravaged small firms and households for the last two months. With Republicans and Democrats still far apart on agreeing on the next round of economic stimulus, downward pressure on small firms and households will continue. The failure to pass the next stimulus bill, in a timely fashion, could result in a double-dip recession.


Deirdre O’Connor, managing director of corporate restructuring at Epiq, said, “we will continue to see filings for companies that had been the most disrupted by Covid and are operating in a zero revenue environment.” Data compiled by Bloomberg shows 193 bankruptcy filings year-to-date of companies with more than $50 million in liabilities were recorded for the first nine months of the year. If filings continue to accelerate into fall/winter, then this year could rival the 271 high, recorded in 2009. For more color on small firm health nationwide via high-frequency data, we turn to Opportunity Insights’ Economic Tracker of the percentage change in the number of small businesses open as of Sept. 13, suggesting nothing but disaster for mom and pop shops ahead of the fourth quarter.

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Judge in Julian #Assange case says she will give her judgment on 4 January 2021.

Shooting Unarmed Civilians In Iraq Would Still Be A Secret But For Assange (ES)

The shooting of unarmed civilians and journalists by US soldiers during the Iraq war would have remained a secret but for the work of Julian Assange, the Old Bailey heard today. Wikileaks published a classified video in 2010 which showed a US Apache helicopter firing on a group of people in Baghdad, as soldiers could be heard laughing and making derogatory remarks about the victims. Two Reuters journalists were among the dead, and the helicopter also fired on a vehicle which arrived at the scene to try to help the wounded victims. The US government refused to release the video – dubbed “collateral murder” – under Freedom of Information laws after its existence became known, and Wikileaks published it in a mass release of leaked cables and military documents relating to the Iraq and Afghan wars in 2010.

In a statement to Assange’s extradition hearing at the Old Bailey, Patrick Cockburn, the Independent’s Middle East correspondent and a veteran war reporter, said he had reported on the July 2007 incident but could not confirm that the victims were actually unarmed civilians. “I published a piece in The Independent about the killing of eleven people by a US helicopter in Baghdad two days earlier. The dead included two Iraqi journalists working for Reuters news agency but the US military claimed that their forces had come under fire, called for air support, and had killed two civilians and nine insurgents. “Police at a nearby Iraqi police station contradicted this, saying that the eleven had died during ‘a random American bombardment’.

A named Iraqi eyewitness confirmed what the police said, and also described how the US helicopter had fired on an Iraqi vehicle that had come to help the wounded. “The evidence was compelling, but in the face of official denials of wrongdoing by the US military authorities it was impossible to prove that all those who died were unarmed civilians. “It was known that a film of the killing had been taken by the gun camera of the US Apache helicopter, but the Pentagon refused to give this up even under a Freedom of Information Act request.” He said the release of the video and other information, passed from US whistleblower Chelsea Manning to Assange and Wikileaks, showed “the way the US was conducting its war on terror”. “But for that, the suspicions of journalists and the local police in Baghdad could never have been established”, he said.

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Jonathan Cook reacts to the OffGuardian, who say he should write differently.

We Must Avoid Being Diverted Towards Terminal Cynicism (Cook)

1. Let me start with a brief comment about Covid-19. I have nothing unique, informed or interesting to say about the virus I haven’t already said in earlier pieces on my blog. I don’t write the same thing over and over – at least not intentionally. Were I to write at the moment about the pandemic, all I would add are statements that I think are relatively obvious and have already been made in the “mainstream” media: • that most western governments have proved deeply incompetent or corrupt in handling the virus; • that, even during a pandemic, there must be a balance between public health needs and our need for a tangible sense of community, and daily I entertain doubts about where that balance should properly lie; • and that governments in trouble will try to exploit the pandemic as best they can to impose more repressive measures on their publics, exactly as is happening right now where I live, in Israel.

Attacks on our freedoms need to be identified and addressed as they occur. I don’t see a global conspiracy to lock us all into our homes. Those who do see such a conspiracy should be writing pieces to convince me and others that they are right, not whingeing that I have not written the piece for them.

2. The incompetence and corruption of our governments in handling Covid-19 are not specific to the virus. They are the symptoms of defective political systems that were long ago captured by corporate interests. Western, technocratic governments have no real solutions for the pandemic in exactly the same way that they have no real solutions for the collapse of eco-systems or for making our economic systems, based on endless growth on a finite planet, sustainable. The reason these challenges defeat them is because they have no values apart from ever greater concentration of wealth.

3. Even were I or others to narrowly focus on Covid-19, there are far more pressing things to talk about than the threat of masks and lockdowns. Such as how we have increased our exposure to new viruses like Covid through rampant colonisation and exploitation of the planet’s final wildernesses, depriving other species of their natural habitats. Such as how economic incentives in food production ensure we are deprived of proper nutrition and encouraged to stuff ourselves with empty calories, provoking an epidemic of obesity and chronic illness, that has weakened our natural defences to disease, especially a new one like Covid-19. I am less worried about lockdowns than I am about western lifestyles that make lockdowns our only way to prevent higher mortality rates.

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Planet Ponzi doesn’t like what he sees.

The America I Loved Has Gone Forever (Feierstein)

Since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in 2016, US politics have not only become highly toxic, they have also become radioactive. The swamp’s resist-everything Democratic Party, enabled by FBI bias and animus that was spun like a spider’s web by the feckless fake news media and echoed by Hollywood’s hypocritical perverts, made numerous attempts to stage a coup d’etat (carefully read the declassified letter below) of the democratically elected president. The CIA referred an investigation to the FBI that the Hillary Clinton campaign was colluding with Russia to impact the 2016 presidential election. The FBI lied to the FISA judges to spy on the Trump campaign, and no one was ever prosecuted.

Why have FISA judges Collyer, Mosman, Conway and Dearie, who signed off on those warrants, and were lied to by the FBI to illegally obtain those same warrants to spy on a political opposition party during a presidential election, done nothing? Why have these Judges remained silent? Is the entire system a stitch-up? Now, the narrative has shifted at warp speed. It’s no longer about Russian collusion. The new narratives that matter are virtue signalling, identity politics, critical race theory, record hypocrisy and a dual justice system where murder,looting and arson are justified because those on the right are all Nazis and the radicalized left’s enforcers, ANTIFAand BLM thugs, are only “peaceful protestors.”

And nothing will interfere with this narrative. For example, the BLM mob influenced the prosecutors by getting them to charge BLM supporter Larynzo Johnson with “wanton endangerment” when he ran up to two police officers and shot them while rioting. Why was this blatant assassination rampage not prosecuted as attempted murder? Is the BLM mob now dictating charging decisions? Johnson’s attempted murder of police officers has quickly disappeared as it interferes with the media mob’s narrative. The media have drummed these themes into the heads of the public and driven a wedge between family members, close friends and co-workers that has polarized America to the brink of civil war.

Life has become so bad in the USA that many of my several decades-old friendships recently ended when they became unable to respect any individual opinion that differed from their own. That has happened to me. Friends for decades have been consumed by Trump Derangement Syndrome and are cancelling me. For societies to evolve and flourish, we all need to accept other people’s viewpoints and continue open-minded, civil and respectful dialogue. In science, scientists always question everything; why shouldn’t we question everything in life without personalizing and demonizing those you disagree with? It’s become impossible to have rational fact-based discussions with these inflexible ideological zealots.

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Aug 262020
 
 August 26, 2020  Posted by at 9:43 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  23 Responses »


Willem de Kooning Gotham News 1955

 

Wisconsin Governor Declares ‘State Of Emergency’ (ZH)
Hillary Clinton Says Biden Should Not Accept Results Of The 2020 Election (ET)
US Spy Plane Enters No-Fly Zone During Chinese Live-fire Naval Drill (SCMP)
Poisoning Navalny ‘Would Not Benefit’ Moscow – Russian Foreign Ministry (RT)
San Francisco “Pent-up Supply” Turns into Record Glut of Houses & Condos (WS)
Sacrifice for Thee, Vast Wealth for Me (Ben Hunt)
Dairy And Fat Could Save Your Life (Aus.)
Assange ‘In A Lot Of Pain’ Says Partner After Prison Visit (IE)
Hob The Llama And His Alpaca Pals Take Regular Streetside Walks (Stuff)

 

 

Just spent an entire morning filled with RNC videos and Kenosha riots. Be careful with that country of yours.

 

 

US daily new cases are holding on to their downward trend. But total cases are set to pass 6 million.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spin

 

 

When is it going to stop? Not on November 4, that’s for sure.

Wisconsin Governor Declares State Of Emergency (ZH)

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, after the second wave of violent protests that rocked the city of Kenosha and the capital of Madison, after a video of police officers shooting an African American man named Jacob Black went viral on social media. The order proclaims a state of emergency in Wisconsin, directs state agencies to continue assisting the state response, and calls to state active duty additional elements of the Wisconsin National Guard to support first responders and protect critical infrastructure and cultural institutions. Evers first called in the national guard to respond to the looting and violence on Monday, and he delivered a statement on the situation earlier today.


In order to try to signal to the public that he’s ‘doing something’, Evers earlier called for a special session for the state legislature to consider police-reform bills that will hobble law enforcement in the face of riots and unrest, and as small business owners are forced to watch in disbelief as their livelihoods are destroyed, with no authorities there to stop it. Meanwhile, a petition demanding Evers “charge the cops who killed Black” has garnered half a million signatures.

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What use are elections when nobody accepts the results?

Hillary Clinton Says Biden Should Not Accept Results Of The 2020 Election (ET)

Former first lady and 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton said Joe Biden shouldn’t concede the election because the final results of the election will likely drag out due to mail-in ballots. “Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually, I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is,” Clinton said in an interview on Tuesday. “I think that [Republicans] have a couple of scenarios that they are looking toward. One is messing up absentee balloting. They believe that helps them so that they then get maybe a narrow advantage in the Electoral College on Election Day,” she claimed.

“So we’ve got to have a massive legal operation, and I know the Biden campaign is working on that.” She went on: “We have to have our own teams of people to counter the force of intimidation that the Republicans and Trump are going to put outside polling places,” Clinton said, urging people to become poll workers in November. And even if you do concede, always blame the Russians? President Donald Trump said Monday that mail-in voting access is a politically motivated plan hatched by Democrats. “What they’re doing is using COVID to steal an election,” Trump said at the Republican National Convention. “They’re using COVID to defraud the American people, all of our people, of a fair and free election. We can’t do that.”

“Eighty million mail-in ballots they’re working on, sending them out to people that didn’t ask for them,” Trump added. “And it’s not fair and it’s not right, and it’s not going to be possible to tabulate, in my opinion.” Some political observers have said that a winner of the presidential contest might not be declared on Election Day due to mail-in voting delays. The mail-in voting push is designed to curb the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. Trump, in recent months, has criticized mail-in voting efforts, accusing Democrats of trying to steal the election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) earlier this week asserted in an interview that Trump is trying “to scare people from voting, to intimidate them by saying he’s going to have law enforcement people at the polls.” “But ignore him,” she said, “because his purpose is to diminish the vote, to suppress the vote.”

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The laws are not crystal clear.

US Spy Plane Enters No-Fly Zone During Chinese Live-Fire Naval Drill (SCMP)

The US has sent spy planes over a live-fire Chinese military drill – including a U-2 which entered a declared no-fly zone – triggering a protest from Beijing and heightening the risk of an armed conflict. The development followed weeks of increased US activity in the region, with numerous military jets and vessels deployed to keep a close watch on Chinese activity. The Beijing-based think tank South China Sea Probing Initiative said a US air force reconnaissance aircraft RC-135S flew across the South China Sea on Wednesday, during the Chinese military drill. But it said it appeared the plane was on a transfer, rather than a reconnaissance mission.

Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said a U-2 reconnaissance jet flew without permission over the no-fly zone in the PLA’s northern military region, where the live fire drills were taking place. “It seriously interfered in normal exercise activities. It seriously violated the code of safe behaviour for air and sea between China and the US and international norms. It easily leads to misjudgment, or could even cause accidents in the sea and air,” Wu said. “The move was an obvious provocation. China firmly opposes such provocative actions and has lodged solemn representations with the US side.”

A source close to the Chinese military said the U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft came from a military base in South Korea, and flew over the Bohai Gulf where China’s aircraft carrier the Shandong was taking part in the exercise. China’s Maritime Safety Administration said live-fire exercises were being conducted in waters off the country’s northeastern coast, stretching from the Bohai Gulf to the Yellow Sea. In a statement, the US military said the U-2’s flight was “within the accepted international rules and regulations governing aircraft flights” and that Pacific air force personnel would “continue to fly and operate anywhere international law allows, at the time and tempo of our choosing”.

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Navalny is important only for the Russiagaters.

Poisoning Navalny ‘Would Not Benefit’ Moscow – Russian Foreign Ministry (RT)

Moscow does not stand to benefit from the alleged poisoning of anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said, noting the haste with which Western media and governments made the insinuation. The ministry issued a statement on Tuesday evening, following a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, during which the subject of Navalny was raised, among other issues. Lavrov pointed out the “suspicious haste” with which the narrative about Navalny’s alleged poisoning was picked up in Washington and Brussels and instantly compared to the “poisonings” of Alexander Litvinenko and the Skripals – which were blamed on Moscow before any investigations happened.

The question inevitably arises – who benefits from it? The Russian leadership clearly does not. The ministry added that accusations of a ‘cover-up’ made against the Russian doctors who first treated Navalny were untrue. “We consider deeply offensive the accusations of ‘covering up the truth’, directed from some Western capitals to the doctors in Omsk, who immediately rendered highly professional aid” to Navalny, the ministry said. “They gave the patient’s complete medical history to the team of German doctors,” the statement continued. “We hope that the German doctors will show the same professional approach and will not allow the results of their laboratory tests to be used for politicized purposes.”

[..] The European Union has already called for a “comprehensive investigation” of Navalny’s alleged poisoning. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seconded that on Tuesday, saying that “Navalny’s family and the Russian people deserve to see a full and transparent investigation carried out, and for those involved to be held accountable.” Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters the German doctors were “rushing” to use the term poisoning, and that an investigation was premature. “There must be a reason for an investigation. At the moment, all you and I see is that the patient is in a coma,” Peskov told reporters. He added that any suggestions Putin was involved in Navalny’s condition were “hot air” and the Kremlin would not take them seriously.

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The most distorted market around these days?!

San Francisco “Pent-up Supply” Turns into Record Glut of Houses & Condos (WS)

We’re going to look at San Francisco’s housing market in two ways: The Case-Shiller Home Price Index released today, which lags months behind but provides good price-movement data for houses and condos; and near-real-time indicators. First the near-real-time indicators: “Active listings” in San Francisco skyrocketed by 137% year-over-year to 1,995 homes for sale in the week ended August 16, based on weekly data compiled by real-estate brokerage Redfin, from Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and Redfin’s own data. This is the biggest highest most stunning amount of inventory for sale since the very peak of Housing Bust 1 (chart via Redfin):

Note the normal seasonal surge in active listings after Labor Day through late October. But halfway into August, normally a slow time of the year when supply declines, supply instead exploded. This was “pent-up supply” that is now suddenly coming on the market. Redfin’s data set doesn’t go back to Housing Bust 1. But according to MLS data, the number of homes for sale in August now exceeds the peaks in August 2009 and August 2010 by about 10%, according to local real-estate site SocketSite. The number of condos for sale (1,160 condos, based on MLS data, net of all new sales and contract activity) is up by 230% from a year ago; and the number of single family houses for sale (390 houses) is up 110%. New listings jumped 124% from a year ago to 260 in the week ended August 16, according to Redfin data (chart via Redfin):

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How capitalism killed itself.

Sacrifice for Thee, Vast Wealth for Me (Ben Hunt)

Doug Parker, American Airlines CEO and Chairman of the Board, wrote a letter to his employees today that pretty much defines high-functioning sociopathy. [..] “Dear fellow team members, We respect and greatly appreciate the sacrifice these team members have made, and continue to make, for American and their fellow team members. Even with those sacrifices, approximately 19,000 of our team members will be involuntarily furloughed or separated from the company on Oct. 1.” [..] Know who’s not sweating the October 1 firing line? Know who’s surviving and thriving just fine, thank you very much? Doug Parker, that’s who.

Here are some fun facts about Doug Parker and his “leadership” of American Airlines since he became Chairman and CEO of the company in 2013, after its merger with US Airways. All of this (and more) can be found in a long note I wrote on the airline bailout back in March. From 2014 through 2019, Doug Parker pocketed more than $150 million in cash through his sale of 3.6 million shares in American Airlines. That’s in addition to the $50 million in stock he still owns (and net of the pittance that Doug has paid for all of these shares). That’s in addition to the $100+ million in cash salary and cash bonuses and deferred comp and stock options and incredible perks that Doug has received. Nope, cash comp and deferred comp are for suckers. Just ask Jamie Dimon.

These stock sales were particularly egregious in 2015 – 2016, where for a twelve month period Doug pocketed between $4 million and $11 million in stock sales per month, and again in 2018, when for a brief shining moment American Airline’s stock price went above $50. Wouldn’t you know it, Doug just happened to choose that moment to sell 437,000 shares of stock, more than twice as much stock as he had ever sold before and almost 5x the usual size of his stock sales. But surely, compensation like this is well earned. Surely, American Airlines has outperformed its competition, built a solid franchise, and delivered nice returns to its investors. LOL. Don’t call me Shirley. From 2014 – 2019, the same years that CEO and Chairman Doug pocketed $200 million in real money stock-based comp, American Airlines had *negative* free cash flow of $3.2 billion. And took on an additional $14 billion in debt. And bought back $13 billion of its stock.

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Go keto.

Dairy And Fat Could Save Your Life (Aus.)

You probably didn’t see that, a couple of weeks ago, a respected US scientific publication — the Journal Of the American College of Cardiology, no less — came out with a review of the literature saying there was no evidence that cutting saturated fats from your diet would help you live longer. And that eating more of the much-libelled lipids — found most abundantly in red meat and dairy — might help you avoid stroke. That you didn’t read about it is no surprise. It is one in a long list of trials, studies, reviews and meta-analyses that have found similar results and gone the same way — sunk without trace, ignored by the people who create our dietary guidelines.

This issue was brought into focus last month when eye surgeon Dr James Muecke, 2020’s Australian of the Year, wrote in the Canberra Times: “A flawed dietary guideline, which we have obediently and blindly followed for 40 years, is literally killing us. We’ve been encouraged to eat less fat and consume more carbs and yet we’ve never been fatter, our teeth never more rotten, and type 2 diabetes and its complications never more prevalent.” So what is Muecke talking about? Surely fat is bad, and saturated fat is worse. The JACC paper listed some of the recent papers to contradict these dietary certainties. There was the PURE (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological) study of 135,000 people from 18 countries on five continents.

It found that increased consumption of all types of fat (saturated, mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated) was associated with lower risk of death and had a neutral association with CVD. By contrast, a diet high in carbohydrate was associated with higher risk of death. And those who ate the most saturated fat had lower risk of stroke, “consistent with the results from meta-analyses of previous cohort studies”. A newly-published study of 195,658 Brits over 10.6 years found “no evidence that saturated fat intake was associated with cardiovascular disease. In contrast, the substitution of polyunsaturated for saturated fat was associated with higher CVD risk.”

These are examples of epidemiology which can only prove associations, not causation. For that you need randomised trials, which are expensive and difficult. There have only ever been eight of them into the question of whether saturated fat will cause heart disease. The authors of the JACC paper looked at the six most recent systematic reviews and meta-analyses of those randomised trials. They wrote that the “results showed that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat has no significant effect on coronary outcomes or on total mortality.”

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Hasn’t seen his own kids in 6 months.

Assange ‘In A Lot Of Pain’ Says Partner After Prison Visit (IE)

Julian Assange’s partner has visited him in prison for the first time in almost six months, and said he looked much thinner than last time she saw him. Stella Moris took the couple’s two young children to meet their father, who is being held in Belmarsh Prison in south-east London, awaiting an extradition hearing on behalf of the United States government. Ms Moris and the WikiLeaks founder had to wear face masks and visors for the 20-minute meeting and were not allowed to touch each other. She told the PA news agency it was “incredibly stressful” but expressed relief at being able to visit him for the first time since March 22.

“We had to keep social distancing and Julian was told he would have to self-isolate for two weeks if he touched the children. “Julian said it was the first time he had been given a mask because things are very different behind the doors. “I could not see him very clearly because of the visors, but he looked a lot thinner. “He was wearing a yellow armband to indicate his level of prisoner status, and you could see how thin his arms were. “At least he got to see the children, even though he couldn’t touch them. The children were both calm – we all remained seated the whole time.”

[..] Gabriel, aged three, showed Assange how he could recite the alphabet and count, said his mother. Ms Moris said her partner is still suffering from a frozen shoulder, and had recently sprained his ankle. [..] “He is in a lot of pain,” she added. Ms Moris expressed concern about Covid-related health measures as Assange is transported to and from the court every day. She added that he has not had a face-to-face meeting with his legal team since lockdown began in March and only has limited access to the huge amount of paperwork generated by the case.

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Just a few old friends. Hob gives you the feeling he’s looking down on you even if you’re taller than him. He’s one cool dude.

Hob The Llama And His Alpaca Pals Take Regular Streetside Walks (Stuff)

Downtown Wellington might have Mittens, frolicking orca and a whale called Matariki – but one city suburb has a social-working llama on its Main St. Previously, Tawa was known for its women’s prison, a hedge crafted into the word ‘Tawa’ and its many churches. Now Stephen Mulholland, owner of Alpacas Rampant, has been taking his llama Hob for walks on a leash along Main St in the suburb – delighting and surprising locals. Mulholland said Hob, 14, a “laconic llama”, was brought in to keep his male alpacas in line. The naturally larger llama took the top spot in the pecking order, and prevented fighting. “When you have these testosterone-filled males, they can fight to the death … it keeps everything cruisy.”


Ross Giblin

Mulholland said he regularly takes Hob, “an exceptionally tolerant llama” for walks along Tawa’s Main St. The llama helped out with SPCA street appeals in the past, and has even worked with prison inmates, Mulholland said. “Hob the llama has actually been to Rimutaka Prison. He’s been places, done things.” Mulholland said one of the things he discovered walking his llama is that “a certain percentage of the population“ has no perception of their environment. “They walk right by a llama and don’t even notice. It does happen. I’m like, ‘how could you miss that?’.” But mostly he discovers people are truly delighted to see an out-of-the-ordinary animal trotting down the pavement. “I’ll take an hour in downtown Tawa and a lot of people will say ‘this has made my day’ … for a tiny amount of effort on my part, if I can make the day for a couple of dozen people, then that’s made Tawa, Wellington, a better place.”


Ross Giblin

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Aug 232020
 


Paul Cézanne Les (Grandes) Baigneuses 1905

 

Send in the Clowns for the Circus Is in Town (Curtin)
Biden Says Trump Seeks To ‘Defund The Police’ (Fox)
House Passes $25 Billion Post Office Bailout As Trump Rages On Twitter (ZH)
My Discussion With John Durham’s Lead Investigator, William Aldenberg (CT)
John Brennan Was Put in a Completely Legitimate Perjury Trap (RS)
550,000 Primary Absentee Ballots Rejected In 2020, Far Outpacing 2016 (NPR)
US Spies’ Obsession With RT Comes Full Circle In Senate Report (RT)
Navalny Was Not Poisoned (MoA)
US Sanctions Devastate Syria’s People And Post-War Reconstruction (Maté)
The Real Huge Jobs Numbers Will Make Your Blood Run Cold (Snider)
Governments Are Faking It, and Copying Each Other (AIER)

 

 

Global new cases and deaths remain stubbornly high. US new cases are trending down, wonderful, now bring down deaths numbers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee Smith
https://twitter.com/i/status/1297350692357668865

 

 

The Society of the Spectacle.

Send in the Clowns for the Circus Is in Town (Curtin)

Don’t bother, they’re here, already performing in the center ring under the big top owned and operated by The Umbrella People. Trump, Biden, Pence, Harris, and their clownish sidekicks, Pompeo, Michelle Obama, et al., are performing daily under the umbrella’s shadowy protection. For The Umbrella People run a three-ring circus, and although their clowns pop out of separate tiny cars and, acting like enemies, squirt each other with water hoses to the audience’s delight, raucous laughter, and serious attentiveness, they are all part of the same show, working for the same bosses. Sadly, many people think this circus is the real world and that the clowns are not allied pimps serving the interests of their masters, but are real enemies.

The Umbrella People are the moguls who own the showtime studios – some call them the secret government, the deep-state, or the power elite. They run a protection racket, so I like to use a term that emphasizes their method of making sure the sunlight of truth never gets to those huddled under their umbrella. They produce and direct the daily circus that is the American Spectacle, the movie that is meant to entertain and distract the audience from the side show that continues outside the big top, the place where millions of vulnerable people are abused and killed. And although the sideshow is the real main event, few pay attention since their eyes are fixed on the center ring were the spotlight directs their focus. The French writer Guy Debord called this The Society of the Spectacle.

For many months now, all eyes have been directed to the Covid-19 propaganda show with Fauci and Gates, and their mainstream corporate media mouthpieces, striking thunderbolts in the storm to scare the unknowing audience into submission so the transformation of the Great Global Reset, led by the World Economic Forum and the International Monetary Fund, can proceed smoothly. Now hearts are aflutter with excitement to see the war-loving Joe Biden boldly coming forth like Lazarus from the grave to announce his choice of a masked vice-presidential running mate who will echo his pronouncements. And the star of the big top, the softly coiffured reality television emcee Trump, around whom the spectacle swirls, elicits outraged responses as he plays the part of the comical bad guy. Punch and Judy indeed.

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Defending the mass incarceration policies? You sure?

Biden Says Trump Seeks To ‘Defund The Police’ (Fox)

President Trump is the one who wants to “defund the police,” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden asserted during an interview Friday. “I don’t want to defund police departments. I think they need more help, they need more assistance,” Biden told ABC News for a wide-ranging interview airing Sunday that also includes Biden’s running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. Biden accused the president of proposing cuts to programs that support local police, in sharp contrast to the Republican incumbent’s campaign-trail rhetoric. Harris also stressed that voters should watch the president’s actions rather than listen to his words. “There is so much about what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth that is designed to distract the American people from what he is doing,” Harris told ABC.

Instead of slashing funding, police departments should focus on forcing out officers who abuse their authority, the former vice president said. “There are unethical senators, there are unethical presidents, there are unethical doctors, unethical lawyers, unethical prosecutors, there are unethical cops. They should be rooted out,” Biden told interviewer Robin Roberts. Racial injustice protesters across the country have been calling for the defunding of police departments in the wake of George Floyd’s May 25 death in police custody in Minneapolis and other cases of alleged police brutality. Biden told Roberts that if elected president he would call for national standards for police departments and would make police misconduct records more easily accessible for public scrutiny.

He said Trump plans to cut “half a billion dollars of local police support,” referring to proposed cuts to a federal program aimed at hiring more local officers. Biden said he would call for more resources and social service support for police. “We have to make it clear that this is about protecting neighborhoods, protecting people, everybody across the board,” he said. “The only guy that actually put in a bill to actually defund the police is Donald Trump,” Biden added, after defending the 1994 crime bill he backed while a U.S. senator from Delaware.

That legislation, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, called for community-based policing efforts – but has been criticized for leading to mass incarceration of African Americans and other minorities. “Everybody forgets a third of that bill that I wrote was to put more cops in the street, not in their automobiles, but getting out and knowing the community – knowing who owns the local grocery store, knowing everybody in the community, and crime will drop,” he said.

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If it really needs $25 billion (or more), the problem doesn’t seem to be where critics currently locate it.

House Passes $25 Billion Post Office Bailout As Trump Rages On Twitter (ZH)

Despite the fact that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has delayed his most controversial cost-saving measures until after the November vote, and endured a shellacking at the hands of Senate Democrats on the Homeland Security Committee, House Speaker and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi forged ahead with the help of 26 defecting Republicans to pass a bill calling for $25 billion in financial assistance for the Post Office. As more states announced plans to hold their elections largely by mail in November (a system that some used for the primaries) the Postal Service announced earlier this month that too much voting by mail could delay the arrival of some votes. Pelosi called a special session of the House during recess and on a Saturday to lend this piece of political theater even more impact.

The vote is the culmination of a Democratic crusade about late mail – literally, a few people complained about their mail being late, a few others posted some context-free photos of mail sorting machines being destroyed, and – boom – Democrats suddenly had an army of twitter trolls shrieking about veterans dying because their medication came a day late. One Connecticut family even complained that USPS had lost the cremated remains of a loved one and veteran (they were found 12 days later thanks to one dedicated worker who supposedly delivered the remains personally). They blamed DeJoy personally for the mistake, and ever since, the state’s AG William Tong has seized every opportunity to draw attention to “out of service” mail sorting machines.

DeJoy is due for round two before the House Oversight Committee on Monday, which should be even more brutal than Friday’s pile-on (at least, for DeJoy’s sake, the Senate is controlled by Republicans). But in the latest transparent bit of political theater organized by “political mastermind” Nancy Pelosi – and surely this is right up there with her wardrobe choices during the unveiling of the Dems’ police reform bill – is the victorious vote on Saturday, which has almost no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate. As we mentioned above, 26 Republicans defected to help Democrats pass the bill 257 votes to 150. In addition to the money, the bill called for reversing certain operational changes imposed under DeJoy. Six states are also suing USPS and DeJoy personally (along with the chairman of the USPS board) claiming these changes infringe on states ability to hold free and fair elections.

[..] Now, get ready for some strongly worded statements from Pelosi when Mitch McConnell inevitably refuses to call it for a vote. The Senate has introduced its own, scaled down, plan to help USPS as part of a proposed COVID relief bill that thanks to Democrats, likely will never become a reality.

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The conservative press has a few very clever and educated people writing on the Russiagate fall-out. They’re going to be needed. This is “sundance” at The Last Refuge.

My Discussion With John Durham’s Lead Investigator, William Aldenberg (CT)

On June 7, 2018, an indictment against Senate Intelligence Committee Security Director James Wolfe was unsealed. Approximately six weeks later, July 21, 2018, the DOJ mysteriously declassified and publicly released the Carter Page FISA application. That’s when I noticed the first two documents were related. The FISA application was the “top secret classified document” described in the Wolfe indictment. Immediately I recognized it wasn’t just any copy of the FISA application that was released by the DOJ; but rather a very specific copy of the FISA application. What the DOJ released was the exact copy used in the leak investigation of James Wolfe. The ramifications of this specific copy being publicly released were immediately noted, although almost everyone seemed to gloss over the issue in favor of discussing the content.

Over the course of the next several months the ramifications became more clear. Despite overwhelming evidence James Wolfe was never charged with leaking the FISA application on March 17, 2017. Quite the contrary, even to this day the official position of the FBI, DOJ and U.S. government is that Wolfe *did not* leak the FISA application. There’s a very big reason for that; as both myself and special agent William Aldenberg discussed. First, in order to fill in another corner of the interview foundation it must be remembered the goal of the DOJ under former AG Jeff Sessions, despite his recusal on all things Trump, was the removal of political influence in the DOJ. That same objective has been repeated ad infinitum by current AG Bill Barr.

This approach is why everyone in/around any issue that skirts on the investigative tissue keeps saying: “a very delicate balance is being navigated”, and “very sensitive approaches” are needed. None of the former -and some remaining embed- officials in the FBI, DOJ, or Special Counsel actors, had any aversion to the use of weaponized politics in their corrupt investigations of President Trump. However, in the current investigation of the former weaponized political investigations the primary avoidance filter is politics. As expressed by almost everyone in and around the issue, any evidence that comes from inside the political silo is considered unusable. This sets up a rather challenging approach… hence the overused “delicate balances” etc. This overlay, the aggressive need not to use political information, is also frustrating.

Some are beginning to question whether it is actually a shield to justify a lack of accountability or institutional preservation. Keep up the pressure, the concerns are valid. The public doesn’t draw distinctions from the origin of evidence. Regardless of whether information comes from HPSCI ranking member Devin Nunes; and/or Senators Grassley, Johnson or Graham (political silo); or from the DOJ itself via John Bash, Jeff Jensen or John Durham; the public is absorbing all it. However, the current AG Barr instructions imply the non use of evidence emanating from the political silo in very direct terms.

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And here is lawyer/prosecutor “Shipwreckedcrew” at Red State.

John Brennan Was Put in a Completely Legitimate Perjury Trap (RS)

Shapiro’s statement claims that Brennan was told by Durham that he is neither a “target” nor “subject,” and that he is only a witness to events under review. Maybe that’s true, but it does not sound true to me. And the statement does not say that comment was made to Brennan yesterday before the interview took place. I can say that I had several occasions during my career as a prosecutor where criminal defense lawyers asked me similar questions about their client in response to an interview request. I can’t say that I always refused to answer, but as a general matter my response was something that I learned when I was starting out from more experienced federal prosecutors —

“Counsel, this interview today is voluntary. Your client is free to leave right now, and answer none of the questions we have. He’s free to stop answering questions at any time while the interview is underway. He’s free to ask to take a break, step outside the room with you, and then return to answer the question or not answer the question. What does he want to do?” John Brennan could have been questioned before a grand jury, without the presence of his attorney in the room. That would be true IF, as suggested by Shapiro’s statement, Brennan was only a “witness”. To explain that, let’s take a moment to address the whole “Target” v. “Subject” v. “Witness” construct the press is so happy to report about.

Labeling an individual a “target” has a clear meaning in federal criminal prosecutions. It refers to someone about whom the prosecutor believes there is already sufficient admissible evidence to seek an indictment from a grand jury, and obtain a conviction at trial. The investigation is ongoing, but the grand jury already has identified a “target” for eventual prosecution. Anyone who is “not a target” is — “not a target”. There is no other “classification” of individuals with meaning. Many people in the business toss around the term “subject”, but that is a “made-up” classification that does not exist. I have received “Subject” letters from prosecutors on behalf of clients, but those all involve a request to interview my client.

A “Target” letter is different. When you receive a “Target” letter it advises you that a federal grand jury has already received evidence upon which criminal charges may be issued in the future. It advises the “Target” that they should seek counsel, and if they cannot afford counsel they should contact the Federal Defender’s Office in their district for legal representation. Once they have secured counsel, their lawyer should contact the prosecutor to discuss the matter. The purpose behind a “subject” letter is merely to instill fear in the recipient and to “encourage” them to talk about others before others talk about them — as information from others might push them closer to the “target” category. Unwitting lawyers think there is meaning behind the “subject” designation but there is not.

Fear is a great motivator. “Doing unto others before they do unto you” is sort of a universal maxim among the idiot criminal class. So if you are not a “target” — meaning there isn’t sufficient evidence at this time to charge you with a crime — then by default you are a “witness.” But “witnesses” can, and often do talk themselves into being “targets” during such interviews. That was the purpose of the interview, Mr. Brennan, not because you have some wonderful insights to provide Mr. Durham and his investigators to make their job easier.

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This is not even about the mail-in votes yet. There better be a very clear winner in November, or else.

550,000 Primary Absentee Ballots Rejected In 2020, Far Outpacing 2016 (NPR)

An extraordinarily high number of ballots — more than 550,000 — have been rejected in this year’s presidential primaries, according to a new analysis by NPR. That’s far more than the 318,728 ballots rejected in the 2016 general election and has raised alarms about what might happen in November when tens of millions of more voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail, many for the first time. Election experts said first-time absentee voters are much more likely to make the kinds of mistakes that lead to rejected ballots. Studies also show that voters of color and young voters are more likely than others to have their ballots not count. Most absentee or mail-in ballots are rejected because required signatures are missing or don’t match the one on record, or because the ballot arrives too late.

“If something goes wrong with any of this, that’s a problem writ large, but it’s also going to be one that hits some populations of the United States a bit harder than others, potentially disenfranchises different groups of folks at higher rates,” said Rob Griffin of the Democracy Fund, which is conducting a sweeping survey of the 2020 electorate with researchers at UCLA. Griffin said, so far, about a quarter of those who voted in person in the last election say they plan to vote by mail this November. The same is true for those who have never voted before and will be casting their first ballots in this year’s election. The numbers compiled by NPR are almost certainly an underestimate since not all states have made the information on rejected mail-in ballots available.

Even with limited data, the implications are considerable. NPR found that tens of thousands of ballots have been rejected in key battleground states, where the outcome in November — for the presidency, Congress and other elected positions — could be determined by a relatively small number of votes. For example, President Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by almost 23,000 votes. More than 23,000 absentee ballots were rejected in the state’s presidential primary in April. More than 37,000 primary ballots were also rejected in June in Pennsylvania, a state Trump won by just over 44,000 votes.

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US intelligence and the Wolfowitz/Brzezinski neocon cabal have severely compromised US national security for decades, only to funnel trillions towards US arms manufacturers, who today produce second rate weapons to boot. It is high time to stop this. Security is much better served by dialogue.

US Spies’ Obsession With RT Comes Full Circle In Senate Report (RT)

Reading the final Senate Intelligence Committee report on ‘Russian meddling’ in US elections, it’s obvious they believe RT is the Christmas tree at its center, with WikiLeaks, troll bots, third parties etc. merely the ornaments. The US establishment’s obsession with RT dates all the way back to March 2011, when then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton complained about the US “losing… the information war.” The infamous Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on ‘Russian meddling’ from January 2017 devoted more than a quarter of its total volume to RT – seven out of 25 pages, to be precise. It was so obvious, even reporters with intimate inside knowledge of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) were skeptical.

The ICA was based on the CIA-FBI-NSA-ODNI claim that “RT is the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.” Yet the bulk of its ‘evidence’ consisted of 2012 ‘open source’ research that was entirely irrelevant to the 2016 election. That pattern is now repeated in the latest SSCI report, in which RT is referenced more than 100 times. Published on Tuesday, the 966-page behemoth almost seems intended to discourage reading. It’s not difficult to see why: the report basically regurgitates every single assertion made over the past four years of ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy-mongering, with insinuation and innuendo doing a lot of the heavy lifting. For example, the word “likely” appears nearly 140 times throughout the report, while “almost certainly” appears 21 times.

One such assertion is that WikiLeaks and its senior leadership “resemble a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors,” which is backed by circular reasoning: media reports, and then US laws based on them. This is followed by the assertion that RT has “provided both beneficial coverage of WikiLeaks and a formal, compensated media platform for [Julian] Assange.” Assange hosted a 12-episode interview show for RT in 2012, called World Tomorrow. This is the sole basis for the SSCI to assert the existence of an “alliance between RT and WikiLeaks” that is somehow “part of the Russian government’s overall strategy to use its state-controlled media to undermine US democratic institutions.”

Straining to prove the existence of this ‘alliance,’ the SSCI literally resurrects the completely debunked conspiracy theory that during the October 2016 release of the Podesta emails, “RT announced WikiLeaks releases on Twitter prior to WikiLeaks making that announcement itself.” As both WikiLeaks and RT have repeatedly clarified, the content of Podesta6 and Podesta15 releases had been posted on the website, but not yet announced on Twitter. RT journalists were monitoring the website, saw the upload, and reported on it – as journalists are supposed to do. That hasn’t stopped Western media, pundits and politicians from making a crazy conspiracy theory out of it, obviously.

The committee doesn’t stop there, however. They also argue that RT’s “efforts to impugn the US democratic process involve its support for third-party candidates and pushing messaging that ‘the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a ‘sham.’” You heard it right, reporting on the existence of parties beyond Democrats and Republicans is somehow impugning democracy. Never mind that this quote is actually from the 2012 annex of the ICA, though it is used here to discuss RT’s “support” for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in 2016. That alleged support consisted of hosting a Green Party debate on a RT America show, and inviting Stein to RT’s anniversary receptions in New York and Moscow.

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An unnecessary step too far, if you ask me. It should have said the odds that he was poisoned are very slim. Other than that, yes, Navalny is a dimwitted CIA puppet whom Putin doesn’t mind at all having around.

Navalny Was Not Poisoned (MoA)

On Thursday morning the Russian rightwing and racist rabble rouser Alexey Navalny fell ill during a flight from Tomsk in Siberia to Moscow. He eventually went into a coma. The plane had to be rerouted for an emergency stop in Omsk. Navalny was brought into a clinic and put on a ventilator. Meanwhile his spokeswomen Kira Yarmysh claimed, without evidence, that Navalny had been poisoned: Yarmysh believes Navalny, who showed no symptoms prior to the flight, was “poisoned with something mixed into his tea” as it was “the only thing he drank this morning.” In the middle of the journey, she wrote later, he began sweating, went to the toilet, and apparently lost consciousness for a period. RIA Novosti reported that Navalny did not eat or drink anything on the flight.

The doctors in the intensive care unit in Omsk had difficulties to stabilize Navalny. A number of tests were made but no poisons were found. Yesterday evening the patient had stabilized. On request of his family he was transported to Germany where he is currently undergoing treatment. The hospital in Omsk said that Navalny had experienced severe hypoglycemia: The head physician of the Omsk emergency hospital, Alexander Murakhovsky, said that Alexei Navalny’s condition was caused by a sharp drop in blood sugar. Hypoglycemia is also known as diabetic shock: “When a person experiences diabetic shock, or severe hypoglycemia, they may lose consciousness, have trouble speaking, and experience double vision. Early treatment is essential because blood sugar levels that stay low for too long can lead to seizures or diabetic coma.”

Hypoglycemia can sometimes happen rapidly and may even occur when a person follows their diabetes treatment plan. A diabetic shock happens when someone with diabetes has taken too much insulin or has eaten too little. My father had diabetes and I have seen him experiencing this problem several times. He always carried a piece of sugar with him to use it as soon as he felt the first symptoms. My mother taught me the basic first aid I would have to to apply should my father be unable to help himself. Thankfully I never had to use it. It is important that the measures are taken immediately. A prolonged coma can lead to brain damage. As Navalny was on a plane up in the air it took quite a while to get him into a hospital. His prolonged coma may have created additional damage to his body.

People with diabetes usually learn how to control their blood sugar level. I have found no information that Navalny actually has diabetes but that does not say much as it is not something people usually talk about. I am not aware of any medication or poison that rapidly lowers the blood sugar level and can be applied secretly. It would also be stupid to use such in an attempt to kill someone as the attacked person simply has to eat something to negate the effect. The ‘western’ media jumped onto the ‘Navalny was poisoned’ claim to heap the usual trash on Russia. They also claimed that Navalny is the ‘opposition leader’ in Russia even as he polls at 2% which is lower than the leader of the communist party and several other real opposition politicians. Nor is Navalny a ‘liberal’. He is a rightwing nationalist and racist who sees Cechen and other non-Russian people as cockroaches that should be killed.

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Start talking to Russia and this, too, can be over.

US Sanctions Devastate Syria’s People And Post-War Reconstruction (Maté)

JOSHUA LANDIS: Well, the sanctions are…the stated reason for the sanctions is that they are to…they’re to force the Assad regime to accept UN resolutions, which call for free elections—free and fair elections—to end the sectarian form of government, and to start a political process that the Special Envoy to the United States, James Jeffrey, has said would lead to Assad leaving power. So, in a sense, this is regime change. He has said it’s not about regime change, and the Trump administration people say we don’t insist on regime change; we want a radical change of regime behavior. But we know that’s not going to happen. Assad has won the war, and these sanctions end up, you know, immiserating the Syrian people, is what it…you know, Assad is going to be able to eat three square meals a day, he can fly it in if he has to, he’s not going to be made miserable.

There are a lot of Syrian opposition members that see this as a way to punish Assad. James Jeffrey has, in his downtime, has said this…his job is really about turning Syria into a quagmire for Russian and Iran. So, those are the three different agendas, really, to punish Assad, to try to carry out some kind of regime change, and perhaps ignite this UN sanct…you know, these UN resolutions that are supposed to bring about a political process, and then also turn Syria into a quagmire so it becomes a millstone around the necks of Russia and Iran. And those, you know, those policies are not going…are not really going to be achieved. Russia has made Syria a key factor in its foreign policy. It’s not going to abandon Syria, and Syria doesn’t cost them that much.

There’s not going to be a public uprising against Assad. Many people have said, oh, some Druze were demonstrating this and that, but Assad has put down the opposition and has won a civil…very bloody civil war. He’s not going to be overthrown by some demonstrations today, and he’s not going to be moved by Western sanctions. So, this…the result of these policies is going to be to starve Syrians, increase instability in Syria, send Syrians [as] more refugees…waves of refugees out into the West, and probably to promote terrorism, because their people will be so poor and unhappy. So, it’s not good for American foreign policy, I think, in the long run. It’s not good for Syrians. It’s not good for humanitarian interests.

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This is going to take a very long time to resolve in any possible way. What’s going to happen to these people in the meantime?

The Real Huge Jobs Numbers Will Make Your Blood Run Cold (Snider)

There is simply no way to spin these figures as anything good. Not just the usual ones were talk about here, but more so some new data that you probably haven’t seen before. Beginning with the regular, it doesn’t matter that the level of initial jobless claims has declined substantially over the past few weeks. The fact of the matter is after 22 weeks of dislocation, at least eleven of them under reopening, these continue to rip along at around 1 million per week. One million. We’d never seen so much as 700k before (though the labor market is getting into the top range of 1981-82 adjusting for population, as if that’s some good thing). Forget about the first half of the contraction (which the shutdown caused) and just focus on this second set of weeks since early May.

There’s no way to describe them, more than double anything we’ve ever seen before. Not shutdown but the visible display of economic damage. The rebound isn’t being very bouncy, for one thing, no matter how many gigantic gobs of purported “stimulus” has been thrown at the economy. It ain’t stimulating. The number of jobs still being lost this late into it is unthinkable; historic. I wrote a couple days ago about another key factor which appears to be what the productivity estimates have revealed; the terrifying possibility that though there’s been more job losses than at any time in history there may not yet have been enough of the longer-run variety to balance business perceptions of far lower post-GFC potential.

“Before even getting to July, this divergence between hours and headline payrolls had already suggested that companies may have been holding on to more workers than the decline in output would’ve demanded. In other words, the level of output and actual work performed had declined more than the reduction in headcounts, by a lot more, leaving us to suspect businesses were holding back a sort of reserve of their own workers (who were still on the books but idle nonetheless) having them at-the-ready for when reopening got started.”

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Jeffrey A. Tucker at the American Institute for Economic Research gets a lot right, but some things awfully wrong (common flu is a coronavirus?! That hurts!).

In a world with zero preparedness and zero competence, politicians hide behind each other and state they only follow science, because that is an even better shield against criticism.

Governments Are Faking It, and Copying Each Other (AIER)

A mystery for months is how it is that so many governments in so many different places on earth could have adopted the same or very similar preposterous policies, no matter the threat level of the virus, and without firm evidence that interventions had any hope of being effective. In the course of two weeks, traditional freedoms were zapped away in nearly all developed countries. In a seriously bizarre twist, even the silliest policies replicated themselves like a virus in country after country. For example, you can’t try on clothing in a store in Texas or in Melbourne, or in London or in Kalamazoo. What’s with that? We know that the COVID bug is least likely to live on fabrics unless I have symptoms of it, sneeze on my handkerchief and then I stuff it in your mouth.

[..] I invite you to examine a very interesting study published by the National Academy of Sciences: Explaining the homogeneous diffusion of COVID-19 nonpharmaceutical interventions across heterogeneous countries. A clearer title might be: how so many governments behaved so stupidly at once. The theory they posit seems highly realistic to me:

“We analyze the adoption of nonpharmaceutical interventions in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries during the early phase of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Given the complexity associated with pandemic decisions, governments are faced with the dilemma of how to act quickly when their core decision-making processes are based on deliberations balancing political considerations. Our findings show that, in times of severe crisis, governments follow the lead of others and base their decisions on what other countries do. Governments in countries with a stronger democratic structure are slower to react in the face of the pandemic but are more sensitive to the influence of other countries. We provide insights for research on international policy diffusion and research on the political consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This seems to fit with what I’ve seen anecdotally. These guys in charge are mostly attorneys with specializations in bamboozling voters. And the “public health authorities” advising them can get credentials in the field without ever having studied much less practiced medicine. So what do they do? They copy other governments, as a way of covering up their ignorance. As the study says: ” While our paper cannot judge what an “optimal” adoption timing would be for any country, it follows, from our findings of what appears to be international mimicry of intervention adoptions, that some countries may have adopted restrictive measures rather sooner than necessary. If that is the case, such countries may have incurred excessively high social and economic costs, and may experience problems sustaining restrictions for as long as is necessary due to lockdown fatigue.”

Which is to say: the closures, lockdowns, and imposed stringency measures were not science. It was monkey see, monkey do. The social psychology experiments on conformity help explain this better than anything else. They see some governments doing things and decide to do them too, as a way of making sure they are avoiding political risk, regardless of the cost. ” Why did so many governments go so nuts at once, disregarding their own laws, traditions, and values by bludgeoning their own people with the excuse of science that has turned out to be almost completely bogus? Some people claim conspiracy but a much simpler answer might be that, in their ignorance and stupor, they copied each other out of fear.”

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